Abstract

Global trends in the prevalence of overweight and obesity put the adipocyte in the focus of huge medical interest. This review highlights a new topic in adipose tissue biology, namely the emerging pathogenic role of fat accumulation in bone marrow (BM). Specifically, we summarize current knowledge about the origin and function of BM adipose tissue (BMAT), provide evidence for the association of excess BMAT with diabetes and related cardiovascular complications, and discuss potential therapeutic approaches to correct BMAT dysfunction. There is still a significant uncertainty about the origins and function of BMAT, although several subpopulations of stromal cells have been suggested to have an adipogenic propensity. BM adipocytes are higly plastic and have a distinctive capacity to secrete adipokines that exert local and endocrine functions. BM adiposity is abundant in elderly people and has therefore been interpreted as a component of the whole-body ageing process. BM senescence and BMAT accumulation has been also reported in patients and animal models with Type 2 diabetes, being more pronounced in those with ischaemic complications. Understanding the mechanisms responsible for excess and altered function of BMAT could lead to new treatments able to preserve whole-body homeostasis.

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